Childhood experience prompts local fundraiser
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — “Until the age of 11, I didn’t walk,” recalled Deb Williquette. “My mother and dad were at a county fair in Plover. I’m assuming that I had a wheelchair at the time, and my dad didn’t want to push it through the sand, so he put me on his shoulders … kind of like Tiny Tim.
“As he was carrying me on his shoulders, they ran into this complete stranger, and they must have had a discussion about me. He handed my mom a card. According to my mother, it wasn’t until three months later that she looked at that card.”
Williquette, Debby Lou Bukowski at the time, had been under a doctor’s care.
“Apparently it wasn’t promising enough,” added Williquette. “So my mom contacted this fellow.”
The man, a Zor Shriner, took Williquette under his wing, sponsoring her treatment for the effects of Perthes disease at Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis.
“I took my first steps at the age of 11 on Easter day,” recalled Williquette. “My parents said I could go get my Easter basket, and I got up out of that wheelchair and went to find that basket.
“Without the Shriners, I would not be standing here. I would have not been able to go to the beach, bike ride, roller-skate.
“I do know at this point I am going to be able to give something back, being a Shriners child, being crippled the way I was.
“About a year or so ago, I ran into two Shriners clowns at a craft show. I told them that I grew up in a wheelchair, braces, and crutches until I went to the Shriners Hospital.”
The Shriners asked Williquette if she would be willing to assist in raising funds, and she did not hesitate. As a manager for a Las Vegas-style traveling show, Williquette was in a position to help.
Talking with the performers in the show, the group decided to add one more to the list of yearly fundraisers that are a part of its performance schedule, which typically consists of about 20 shows.
“None of this was planned. It just fell into place,” added Williquette.
Hearing of the proposed fundraiser, the Belvedere Supper Club’s owners hopped on board.
What resulted from the collaboration is the Elvis, Patsy Cline, and Friends Tribute Show to benefit the Zor Shriners. The brunch buffet show will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, at Belvedere Supper Club.
For more information on the fundraiser, call 715-347-2468 or 715-387-4161.